A 50-year history of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class


Five many years, seven generations, one large celebration. As it completes half a century, here is a ringside view of how the Mercedes-Benz S-Class has formed the way forward for the auto.

Published On Aug 31, 2022 09:00:00 AM

Mercedes-Benz S-class history

It is hard for fans to reach at a consensus on most issues automotive. But relating to the very best automobile on this planet, there may be normally widespread settlement on the title being deserved by the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Few vehicles have the identical stature because the S-Class. The Sonderclass (‘special class’ in German), or the S-Class, has been redefining the way forward for the auto for many years and pushing the envelope with regard to innovation and know-how. At the identical time, it has constantly managed to set gold requirements in consolation and luxurious.

It’s primarily these three issues that make an S-Class an S-Class. Designed and engineered by the corporate that invented the auto, each successive technology of the S-Class has offered a glimpse into the long run – an instance of what all is feasible to do in a automobile. Most of the security and technological improvements that we generally see in vehicles as we speak made their debut within the S-Class.

The iconic nameplate turned 50 years outdated just lately. That’s 5 many years and 7 generations of dominance within the luxurious automobile section, and half a century of being the de-facto alternative for highly effective folks and folks in energy. The factor with the S-Class is also that it by no means actually will get out of date. In truth, the older they get, the extra sought-after they turn out to be.

Autocar India just lately assembled all seven generations of the S-Class, together with their homeowners, on the Mercedes-Benz India facility in Pune to have fun this milestone, and obtained their homeowners to inform us why the S-Class is so particular. The homeowners, as you’ll uncover, have been the actual model ambassadors of the automobile and nearly all of them have been S-Class loyalists for so long as they’ll keep in mind.

W116 (1972-1980)

It all started right here

The S-Class identify was first put in 1972 on the W116. It was a automobile with many firsts, and the technology that showcased Mercedes’ obsession with security. The W116 was the primary automobile to be constructed with a complete integral security idea and housed the crash-protected gas tank. It was additionally the primary automobile to be outfitted with ABS as we all know it as we speak, and it has since saved innumerable lives.

First automobile to be outfitted with ABS, which has saved innumerable lives.

It was the primary manufacturing automobile to be fitted with a turbo diesel engine and in addition got here with hydro-pneumatic suspension. Mercedes-Benz additionally provided the W116 with the 6.9-litre V8 engine – the best capability engine produced by the model after WWII – and this explicit mannequin was one of many quickest vehicles on sale at its time.

6.9-litre V8; largest engine made by Mercedes-Benz after WWII.

The 6.9-litre engine is what attracted Behram Marker to this explicit W116. He had been fascinated with it as a baby and eventually acquired it 19 years in the past. What makes it much more particular is that it’s the solely recognized W116 450 SEL 6.9 in India.

“It is a beautiful experience to drive this car. Mercedes built these type of cars where every single part is engineered to last a lifetime or more,” mentioned Marker. He is planning to revive his automobile quickly, however needs to maintain it as near the unique as potential by entering into for a sympathetic restoration.

V126 (1979-1992)

Steel and rubber by no means felt extra comfy collectively

As Mercedes-Benz rolled into the Eighties, the new-generation S-Class constructed on the attributes of the first-generation mannequin. Safety was once more the main focus, with the V126 pioneering the Supplemental Restraint System Airbag the place the seat belt pre-tensioners had been made to work in sync with the entrance occupant airbags for the primary time. A brand new physique shell construction ensured that this S-Class was the primary manufacturing automobile to satisfy the frontal off-set crash standards. It was additionally the primary Mercedes-Benz to make use of deformable plastic bumpers – one thing that we generally see in vehicles as we speak.

The W126 was the primary automobile to be outfitted with airbags.

Mercedes-Benz additionally paid consideration to creating this technology of the S-Class extra environment friendly. This was performed with the usage of light-weight supplies within the automobile’s manufacturing, and it additionally featured an aerodynamic physique developed within the wind tunnel.

The V126 went to nice lengths to pamper its occupants with tools akin to eight-way powered entrance seats and energy recline modify for rear seats. Comfort ranges had been superlative, due to hydro-pneumatic self-levelling rear suspension, which gave it the fabled ‘magic carpet experience’ tag. It was so good that motoring pundits typically mentioned metal and rubber had by no means felt extra comfy collectively.

8-way powered seats matched ‘80s decadence; note iconic pictogram.

With over 8,00,000 units sold, the V126 was a commercial success for Mercedes-Benz. Its 12-year manufacturing run is the longest for any generation of the S-Class.

The Habibs have owned Mercedes-Benz models since the 1930s, including several S-Classes, and a V126 entered their garage back in 1989 when it was still in production.

“It’s a incredible machine. You get the ability, you get the consolation, you get the reliability. It’s taken on Indian roads for the final 30-odd years, and the construct high quality is incredible. The query shouldn’t be why Mercedes-Benz, it’s solely Mercedes-Benz,” says architect Aakif Habib.

W140 (1991-1998)

Modern Classic

The W140 is now a correct fashionable traditional. Like the earlier two generations, it felt like a automobile a decade forward of its time. The focus was on cutting-edge know-how akin to an Auto-Pilot navigation system and one of many earliest examples of voice assistants – the LINGUATRONIC voice-operated management system. It additionally featured the PARKTRONIC parking help system.

With W140, the S entered the trendy age with voice help and satnav.

It was the primary automobile to characteristic Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) and it additionally had Brake Assist System (BAS). For the entrance occupants, it featured automated seat-belt peak modify and aspect airbags.

It was the primary Mercedes-Benz manufacturing automobile to get a V12 engine, and it packed tools like double-glazed home windows and soft-close doorways for first fee refinement and comfort.

Parking rods had been changed by non-obligatory PARKTRONIC system in 1995.

Over 20 years in the past, Mercedes-Benz started the event of autonomous driving with the W140. One of the prototypes was transformed in such a approach that a pc was in a position to function the steering, throttle valve and brakes. The prototype drove at speeds as much as 130kph for a distance of 1,000km.

Satish Jaysankar fell in love together with his good friend’s W140 whereas they had been each driving right down to the Mercedes-Benz Classic Car Rally in 2014 from Bengaluru to Mumbai. Jaysankar purchased the automobile from his good friend instantly after the rally.

After proudly owning many up to date Mercedes fashions, the W140 is what made him a Mercedes-Benz traditional automobile collector and the deep blue W140 is one among his day by day drivers. He sums it up finest: “You really feel like you are driving a tank.”

The S-Class got here to India nearly 30 years after its world debut, however as is clear from the tales of individuals akin to Marker and Habib, S-Class loyalists have cherished the luxe limo lengthy earlier than it formally entered India.

V220 (1998-2005)

Hello India

The V220 began the India chapter of the Special Class. Introduced on the flip of the century, with superior options and 340 patents, the V220 was able to enter the brand new millennium.

Its most distinct characteristic was its design. Mercedes-Benz moved to a extra futuristic design language with the V220. What didn’t change, nonetheless, was its means to set new developments in automotive know-how.

V220’s the primary automobile to get DISTRONIC radar-guided cruise management.

The V220 S-Class got here with keyless entry, and debuted DISTRONIC radar-guided cruise management. It additionally had options like COMAND management and a show system with dynamic navigation. Mercedes-Benz took security to a brand new degree with PRE-SAFE – a system that might anticipate an accident and activate preventive security measures like closing the sunroof and tightening seatbelts.

COMAND system, which debuted within the V220, got here with its personal guide!

The V220 provided customary air suspension, which made it glide over the worst of highway surfaces. Aryan Shirole fell for this mixture of stylish design, excellent experience consolation and know-how. Shirole all the time aspired to personal an S-Class and he fulfilled his dream with the fourth-generation mannequin.

“It’s a 15-year old car, but it still wafts on the road,” says Shirole. The air suspension and display screen on Shirole’s V220 all look and run like new.

V221 (2005-2013)

Best obtained higher

The V220 was changed by the a lot bolder wanting V221 that was characterised by cutting-edge digital know-how. It debuted with Mercedes’ dynamic Night View Assist, and it was additionally outfitted with an enhanced proximity-controlled cruise management DISTRONIC Plus that includes Lane Keeping Assist.

Digital tech, with speedo doubling up as night-vision show, was a giant draw.

Safety, as all the time, was paramount and to that finish, it got here outfitted with the PRE-SAFE brake system with autonomous partial braking, which was later up to date to carry out full-stop autonomous braking. This was the primary technology of the S-Class to have a hybrid powertrain.

COMAND system, customary in V221, was now pushed by a rotator.

The V221 provided impeccable highway manners with an ultra-comfy experience. The inside, which was embellished with chrome , wooden and leather-based, made it feel and look additional particular.

The Hedes, who personal this explicit V221, have owned each technology of the S-Class, proper from the 220S Ponton – from an period approach earlier than Mercedes-Benz vehicles had been formally bought in India.

“The V221 was launched some 17 years ago, and none of its competitors came close to what it delivered,” says Samit Hede.

The assertion “once an S-Class, always an S-Class” appears to ring true. After all, there may be nothing to improve to when you’ve got absolutely the pinnacle in cars than its newer model.

V222 (2013-2020)

Out of this world

The V222, which was bought in India between 2014 and 2021, opened up much more potentialities in innovation and security. It debuted driver help methods, which had been a precursor to autonomous driving.

Road Surface Scan pre-empted threats posed by floor undulations.

It additionally had radars that might scan the highway forward and robotically modify the suspension to thwart threats posed by floor undulations. Moreover, it was the primary automobile on this planet completely with out conventional bulbs.

Look ma, no (conventional) bulbs. Another first within the automotive world.

This technology elevated consolation by providing therapeutic massage and lively seat air flow. It additionally got here with Energising wellness management that merged a number of in-car options to spice up passenger wellness. The Maybach vary was added as essentially the most luxurious variant within the S-Class line-up.

In India, the diesel-powered V222 S-Class was the primary automobile to satisfy BS6 emission norms greater than two years earlier than the sale of BS4 engines was banned by the federal government. It was additionally the primary Mercedes-Benz in India to supply Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).

The V222 S-Class was a no brainer when the Rustomjis got down to purchase a brand new household automobile. They needed the world’s finest automobile and the S500 match the invoice. Their V222 has an added AMG physique package, which, says Rohan Rustomji, provides it an excellent mix of luxurious and sportiness.

“The Magic Carpet ride is phenomenal. The way the car scans the road ahead and adjusts the suspension is out of this world,” says Rustomji.

V223 (2020-present)

Heading into the long run

Technology guidelines within the V223’s cabin. With as much as 5 screens, the second-generation MBUX system allows one other degree of human-to-machine interplay by means of improvements like augmented actuality heads-up show and spatial notion by means of 3D eye-tracking.

Next dimension: 12.3-inch instrument cluster incorporates a distinctive 3D impact.

Safety is enhanced, and Mercedes-Benz has added the world’s first sequence manufacturing rear-seat airbag. It additionally options rear-axle steering that may steer the rear wheels as much as 10 levels to help manoeuvrability.

Like earlier S-Classes, the V223 S-Class is every part a automobile might be – the very best in security, tech, consolation and luxurious. In typical S-Class style, it’s certain to be the torchbearer till a brand new S-Class arrives.

Nothing however the most secure: V223 first sequence manufacturing automobile with airbags for the rear.

With autonomous driving and electrification altering the course of the auto, it will be fascinating to see what the S-Class of the long run will likely be able to. In the in the meantime, right here’s to a different 50 years of sheer motoring excellence.

Also see:

Celebrating 50 years of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 4Matic+ launched at Rs 2.45 crore

Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4Matic to launch on September 21

Copyright (c) Autocar India. All rights reserved.

Leave a Comment